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Book Review - The Protector of the Small Quartet

 Saturday, 2 October 2010

S'up folks tis Saturday and therefore it's only SIX FREAKING DAYS TIL MY BIRTHDAY!! *dies* I know I've been whining a lot about turning 20 but my inner four year old is soo freaking excited cos being away from home for my birthday means I'll get cards and stuff through the mail and I *love* getting stuff in the mail! Anywho on Thursday I'll do a nice rambly post and do a vlog showing any bookish or funky presents I receive so be ready for that :D

But I'm procrastinating the true purpose of this post - to review the second book/series in my Favs Fortnight event. Warning this post will contain *extreme* amounts of gushy adoration and a healthy dose of ranting about mean-publishers-who-don't-publish-my-favouritest-author's-books-in-this-country HUMPH!

Title: The Protector of the Small Quartet
Books in Series: First Test, Page, Squire & Lady Knight
Author: Tamora Pierce
Date: 25/9/2010 AM (Finished re-read of last book)
Source: Bought
Description: Keladry (known as Kel) is the first girl to take advantage of the decree that permits girls to train for the knighthood. The only thing that can stop her is Lord Wyldon, the training master of pages and squires. He does not think girls should be knights and puts her on probation for one year. It is a trial period that no male page has to endure and one that separates the friendly Kel even more from her fellow trainees. But Kel is not someone to underestimate. . . . (Description from

Rant: It won't take long promise :P
At the risk of sounding hideously pretentious and snooty I have to say that Tamora Pierce is a *vastly* under-appreciated author in Britain because to my utmost sorrow her books are not actually in print anymore in this country and a few others that I can't recall right now. But even when they were in print I cannot remember seeing them displayed and advertised with any vigour (granted this was back in 2004ish when YA book marketing wasn't anywhere near as extensive as it is now). I think that with the influx of Paranormal and the ridiculously named "Dark fantasy" novels in the YA market, there just isn't as much demand for the medieval-esque/high fantasy series like what Tammy writes - to actually find these kind of books you'll need to either be very determined to hunt down copies through online sellers or second-hand bookshops or you'll have to write the damn books yourself. Heck if you can't buy what you want to read then write it - it worked for Tolkien and C.S. Lewis right? Do you think that if I wrote enough pleading emails to Scholastic (who published the copies which I own) that they'd reprint Tammy's books with either the same funky covers or EVEN MORE AWESOME ONES?!?

Review: For real now
Out of all of the 25+ books that Tammy has written over the past 20 years, the Protector of the Small quartet is quite possibly my absolute favourite set of stories (although the Trickster Duet is a very close second). In fact just in general the style of book that Tammy writes is one of my favourite to read. The medieval-esque fantasy world that she writes the PotS quartet and several others in - Tortall - is such a fabulous world and with it being the kind of country where old-fashioned knights and heroes are needed, the books are infused with a wealth of knowledge about horse husbandry, weaponry and other knightly aspects. I will not lie to you, the tiny amount that I know about horses that was gleaned from reading Tammy's books (and also in part from behind the scenes footage from my LOTR dvds) was actually kinda useful when I went horse-riding for the first time. Ok so I had no clue how not to bounce around in the saddle when my horse decided to start trotting without warning but I reckon the horse knew I was a green rider and I scolded him for his mischief.

Keladry of Mindelan, or Kel as she's more often known is the protagonist in this quartet. She's really quite unique compared to Tammy's other Tortallan heroines - Kel has no magical Gift whatsoever which when contrasted with Alanna's vast Gift, Daine's Wild Magic, Aly's Sight and Beka's intriguing Air magic, makes Kel a very special gal. What she achieves is a result of her own determination and physical effort - she doesn't have magic to back her up, or gods helping her out, just her own strength and will-power to succeed. 

As a role model she's fabulous; she always works harder and longer than she's required to, her sense of ethics and morals is the strongest and most admirable out of *any* fantasy heroine. She's fiercely loyal to her family, friends and those in her care and she will always do her duty by them. She's wise beyond her years and knows better than to dwell on things that she can't change, she can only strive to overcome them. When she sets her sights on a goal - the whole plot of the series being her goal to become a knight - she goes after it whole-heartedly and with every intention of succeeding *without* resorting to cheats and short-cuts. 
She's also brilliantly funny and witty, I find myself laughing constantly at her dry good-humoured quips and I envy her ability to stay cool-headed and reasonably polite when dealing with idiotic folk who have their heads stuffed up their collective backsides. Best of all she's still human - her fear of heights was nearly her undoing on several occasions during her Page years and even when she does get over the main terror she at least is sensible enough to respect the danger that heights still present. 

In case you think I'm never going to stop gushing over my girl-crush of Kel (it's *nawt* a crush I just wish I could be her!) I am now moving onto the other ah-mazing characters which appear in this quartet.
If you have read some of Tammy's other Tortall books (if not then get on it or I'm sending the hounds after you) then you will be happy to see several of her previous characters popping up for varying chunks of time. Alanna, Daine, Numair *sigh*, Jonathon, George, Raoul, and several other people all put in an appearance. Raoul gets the most screen-time as it were because he is the man who takes Kel on as his Squire in the third book (aptly titled Squire *guffaw*). Kel's time spent riding with the King's Own, who are kind of the King's police enforcement teams and back-up for the regular army, is brilliant to read about. The camaraderie between the men and Kel makes for some great funny scenes and "seeing" Kel tilt (joust) against Raoul is possibly the funniest thing I could ever dream to see on film one day.

I know that this review has gone on for *waay* too long but I'll try to keep this last bit shortish. So why should you read this quartet? Because if you love books with a fantastic cast of characters whom you can laugh and fall in love with then this is for you. If you love a rich and vibrant fantasy world that you just wish you could dive into then this is for you. If you want books that you can re-read over and over and *never* tire of then this series and any of Tammy's other books are so perfect that I think you should go out and buy them right now!

I have literally poured my heart into this review because only then will people who have never even heard of Tamora Pierce understand how much she has affected my reading and to be perfectly honest my life. I don't think that any author has inspired me to rave about their books quite as much as Tammy has and I really hope that one day I can get to meet her (although the chances of that when I live in the UK are slim indeed) so I can tell her just what a fabulous influence she has been for me - although this will invariably come after I've hyperventilated for 15 mins in true fangirl style :P

So to sum up - READ THESE BOOKS!! *ahem*

My rating: 5 Stars out of 5 (plus 30 more stars)

Phew! It has taken me an inordinate amount of time to write this whole review out and I reckon I can safely say that unless I get serious Writer's Block sometime soon I am gonna have no problem at all churning out 1,667 words a day for NaNoWriMo considering this review alone is nearly 1,200 words. 

But anyway a massive congrats to anyone who has made it down as far as this - I commend your perseverance and I promise to try and keep the next few reviews a good deal shorter but I just can't help myself when it comes to Tammy Pierce books :P

Until Tomorrow then


Lit Addicted Brit 2 October 2010 at 19:46  

I've been thinking about reading a Tamora Pierce novel for a while - where do you think I should start? If characters make 'guest appearances' in later books/series, should I be starting at the beginning?

I think your Favs Fortnight idea is fab, by the way - top idea! :)

LadyViolet 2 October 2010 at 20:22  

Well for the Tortall books starting with the Song of the Lioness quartet is the most logical (the Beka Cooper trilogy is chronologically first but it is the most recently written). After the SotL quartet it's the Immortals quartet and *then* this quartet. It's not imperative that you read the first two quartets to understand what's going on but it does enhance the reading experience when you already know and love the characters like Alanna etc. when they pop up in PotS.

Why thank you, it's been great fun re-reading the eight books I've chosen to review although hopefully the next one won't be as massive! :P

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